History of The Nigerian Air Force
The origin of the Nigerian Armed Forces dates back to 1863 when the Hausa
Constabulary was formed by the British. The Constabulary metamorphosed into the
West Africa Frontier Force (WAFF) and then the Nigerian Regiment in 1956. It was
then completely a land-based force. Later, the need to protect and patrol the
Nigerian coastline and its resources led to the creation of the Nigerian Navy in
1956. These were the components of the Nigerian Armed Forces till 1962 when the
idea of establishing an air force for Nigeria was first muted. The idea was
triggered by the difficulties encountered when the country was called upon to
participate in 2 foreign military operations in war-torn Republic of Congo in
the early 1960s and to quell military insurrections in Tanganyika (now Tanzania)
in 1959. These missions saw Nigeria relying on civil aircraft or foreign air
forces to convey her men and logistics to the theatre of conflict. Consequently,
the establishment of a Nigerian Air Force was accepted in principle and the
Nigerian Government approached a number of countries for assistance in training
of Nigerian pilots as well as establishing the Force.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) was formally established on 18 April 1964 with the
passage of the Air Force Act 1964 by the Nigerian Parliament. The Act summarised
the objectives of the NAF as follows:
The Nigerian Air Force shall be charged with the defence of the Federal
Republic by air, and to give effect thereto, the personnel shall be trained in
such duties as in the air as well as on the ground.
This goal provided the platform as well as the focus for the evolution and
initial development of the NAF, fondly referred to as ‘the pride of the nation’.